Saturday, November 08, 2008

YA Lit Symposium: Fans, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture

Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture

Speakers: Liz Burns and Carlie Webber

PowerPoint slides for this presentation.

5 Ws of Fandom

What is fandom?
Best friends you've never had. Lets you talk about a book or movie or TV show you enjoy. People might not have met without the fandom experience

Who participates in fandom?
Before 2002, most participants were college-educated women in their late 20s and 30s. With HP, teens got involved in fandom.

When did fandom start?
Most people think fandom starts with Star Trek, but there's a long history of people gathering together to share their love. With the Internet, instead of joining together with one or two people locally, you can share your passion with a larger community.

Where can you participate in fandoms?
Fandom comprises a large range of activities.

Why be a part of fandom?
Fandom is fun! Gives you a chance to meet people you hadn't otherwise met. And it tells you that you're not alone in the world.

Basic fandom terminology
fan: short for fanatic
fandom: the gathering of fans
fanfiction: any stories that is set in the same universe of a book, movie, or TV show
LiveJournal: the blogging platform of choice for fans
LiveJournal community: a group of people with a shared interest
canon: the source material
Con/convention: a gathering of people around a certain theme
zine: collection of printed fan stories or art

Great thing about fandom: you've probably participated already. if you've thrown a party around a teen book, you've participated.

Stephenie Meyer has been brilliant in terms of her relations with her fans. Pictures of proms, music playlists, photos of clothes and cars that she imagined the characters wearing or driving.

Fandom must have participation, community, and dedication.
These all go hand-in-hand.

You don't have to be a fan to have fandom programs; you just have to be open.

Almost every book has a fandom: for example, the works of Megan Whalen-Turner

Share your reading response: Twitter while you're reading a book

Talk with others: you can share a fan activity about anything.

Read or write more about a character: roleplay through Twitter. Mad Men characters on Twitter. Can watch the back-and-forth between the charactes as interpreted by fans.

Find out more: Wikipedia article on Garth Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom.

Essays: loves a topic so much, they have to explore it more.

Research: there are people who have studied fandom topics, like Mary Sues. Fandom can be serious and worthy of study in academia.

Tshirts, buttons, crafts, fan art, cosplay, fan videos: you can have many kinds of activities that relate to fandom.

Fanfic 101: Where "ship" doesn't refer to a boat

What is fanfic? any story that takes place off-stage in a book.

You can be writing fanfic in school without realizing it; any time a teen writes a letter from a character in a book, that's fanfic.

And there's fanfiction that's legitimate books: March by Geraldine Brooks, all the Jane Austen books

Fanfic terminology
archive: a place to post your stories or fan art
beta readers: check your grammar and your canon
Mary Sue: any original character dropped into a fanfic that do not have a link to the canon. Fans create Mary Sues as a way to become part of the story. Usually Mary Sues have one small flaw, like klutziness.
ship: short for relationship, refers to any romantic relationship that occurs in the book, whether it happens on-stage or off-stage.
slash: fanfic written about same-sex couples who do not ordinarily have a romantic relationship in the book. Even though they're not a canonical relationships, publishers are capitalizing on it, like with yaoi manga.

Archives to know about largest fanfic site on the Internet. Thousands and thousands of fics and hundreds of fandom. Anyone can register; it's free. There's no checks for grammar or characterization. It is great for finding which authors will not permit fanfic of their works.

FictionAlley: a Harry Potter fanfic archive. Largest HP-only fan site on the web. Invite-only, so that only certain authors can post fic. Emphasize quality over quantity.

Supernaturalville: representative of many one-fandom archives.

Twilighted: same as Supernaturalville. Sponsoring an original fiction contest. does anime-focused fan art and fanfic.

But isn't this all illegal?

not for profit
Don't charge money for this, like sending it to a POD publisher and selling the book for ten bucks apiece. Don't dress up as a character and then go to kids' parties and charge money. See the WSJ article on handout, "Why Dora the Explorer Can't Come To Your Kid's Party"

copyright infringement
Don't copy a book and resell it. Are you trying to undercut the original author?

fair use
Does it promote the source material? Most times, fanfic helps promote a book or TV show or movie.

J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers vs. RDR Books: Why the ruling works in fans' favor
Steve Vanderark published an online site on HP called the Lexicon. He sold the Lexicon as a print book to the publishers RDR Books. Rowling and WB sued to prevent a print version. RDR argued that it was already online and that it was fair use; no different from an unofficial guide. The ruling was in favor of Rowling & WB, saying that the Lexicon couldn't be printed as it was planned. But it's in support of fan rights, because the ruling doesn't say anything about the website. The online Lexicon is still available; Rowling was just against the book. Rowling proved that in fact, the book wasn't an unofficial guide, but more a book with too much verbatim quotage from Rowling's books.

Fandom outside your library: how publishers are in on the game

--Author fanfiction contests: Meg Cabot, Holly Black
--Interactive websites/games for books: participate in a book's world beyond the book. Helps inspire dedications in readers. Examples like The 39 Clues and The Hunger Games.
--HarperTeen FanLit: encouraging teens to write fanfic and original stories, helping promote interest in their books.
--Nerdfighters: John Green's fandom project. His publisher has realized the power of fans: the discussion guide for his latest book includes questions about Nerdfighters.

Anything goes for fandom . . . so participate, form a community and dedicate yourselves.

Questions from audience

Buffy vs. River?
Buffy would win because River is crazy.

Programming for a book you don't like?
Bring in the kids who like it and let the kids take the lead. Help the teens make it real.

The great thing about fandom is that you can find other sites, once you've found one site.

Is there a list of the top five fanfics, if you haven't ever read fanfic before?
Best way is to find LiveJournal communities that specialize in fanfic recommendations. Look for fans' favorite fanfic lists. Have had good luck with online fanfic writing contests.

Not a complete and full record; speakers' remarks are paraphrased. Any errors or typos are my own.

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